Waiting game for Linlithgow Burgh Halls report

Councillors will have to wait until June for an in depth report into the financial problems at Linlithgow’s Burgh Halls.
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Run by West Lothian Council as a weddings and events venue, the Burgh Halls is set to record a £77,000 loss this year with a new pricing policy set to be introduced next month

A report had been promised to councillors in January after local Councillor Sally Pattle requested details.

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But at this month’s meeting of the Economy, Community Empowerment and Wealth Building Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel (PDSP) Donald Stavert from the Joint Forum of Community Councils pointed out that no report had been presented.

The Burgh Halls, run by West Lothian Council as a wedding and events venue, is set to record a £77,000 loss this year.The Burgh Halls, run by West Lothian Council as a wedding and events venue, is set to record a £77,000 loss this year.
The Burgh Halls, run by West Lothian Council as a wedding and events venue, is set to record a £77,000 loss this year.

Chairing the PDSP, Councillor Kirsteen Sullivan said a report on the Burgh Halls, and other facilities, would come to councillors in early June after the start of the new financial year.

“It is on the workplan for the PDSP meeting on June 4,” Councillor Sullivan told the meeting

The Burgh Halls has long struggled to make money as a weddings and events venue and at the January meeting of the PDSP the SNP’s Andrew Miller said the building’s poor fiscal record warranted a more in depth report.

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Linlithgow’s Lib Dem Councillor Pattle had asked at that meeting if team members working in the Burgh Halls had been consulted on future options.

At the time she asked: “What kind of options are being considered in conjunction with the team?”

Councillor Sullivan said these questions were not for the financial officer to respond to, rather for others to report on.

And, at a meeting the following day, Linlithgow Labour veteran Tom Conn told council officers that he had expected a “holistic approach” to generating income and improving the wider public use of the building.

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He was responding to a report to another PDSP which had suggested: “A streamlined pricing structure will be introduced from 1 April 2024 which focuses on providing a tailored wedding package, enhancing the customer experience.

“Arrangements will be put in place to ensure customers who have pre-booked events will not be disadvantaged following introduction of the revised pricing policy. The impact of the pricing review on customer demand will be monitored throughout 2024/25.”

Councillor Conn said at the 1 February meeting of the Corporate Policy and Resources PDSP: “Regarding the Burgh Halls and the review that’s being undertaken. It seems to mention wedding packages and whatever but I would like clarification on actual opening hours for community activities or community access. It [the report] seems to be quiet as far as that’s concerned.

“It seems that the standard opening hours are not on the weekends or on a Monday. Will that be ongoing as part of this review?.”

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Officials acknowledged that there were no planned changes, in this review, to opening hours.

“So it’s a continuation of opening hours being restricted, and the reduced hours of the café will continue?”, asked Councillor Conn.

Greg Welsh, one of the senior service officers said: “In terms of the position outlined in this paper that would be a separate review in terms of community usage of the facility.

“The purpose of detail in this report is looking at alterations to the fees but I can certainly pick up with colleagues in terms of the operational matters that you have raised.”

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